Minutes of the October 19-20, 1998 Commission Meeting


The third meeting of the President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History was held on October 19-20, 1998 at the Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, Illinois.

In accordance with Public Law 92-463 as amended, this meeting was open to the public and members of the public were present.


Commission Members Present

Ann Lewis, Co-Chair
Beth Newburger, Co-Chair and Federal Representative
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Gloria Johnson
Johnnetta Cole (by phone)
J. Michael Cook (by phone)
Barbara Goldsmith (by phone)
Ellen Ochoa (by phone)

In addition to members of the public, Martha Davis from the General Services Administration and Ruby Shamir from the White House staffed the meeting.


Opening Remarks

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt welcomed the audience and the Commission to Chicago. She conveyed the Mayor's greetings to the group and commented on his work for gender equity.

Beth Newburger began her remarks by recognizing her co-chair, Ann Lewis and the Commission members present, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and Gloria Johnson, and the other members on the phone. Ms. Newburger talked about the format for the meeting; speakers have been invited to participate and are limited to making 15 minute speeches.


Introduction and Statement of Purpose and Goals

Following is a transcript of Ann Lewis's remarks.
This is the third meeting of the President's Commission. The Commission takes its work very seriously. We are charged with recommending to the President in March of 1999, which is Women's History Month, how best to celebrate the history of women in this country from now, through and especially in the millennium year, because we feel that it is important that we celebrate and teach our children history as it truly happened. It was Hillary Rodham Clinton who suggested the theme for the millennium could be "honor the past imagine the future." To be accurate our history must be inclusive of everyone. If we are going to imagine the future, we need to imagine a future in which everyone plays a role.

As I was preparing for this meeting I thought it would be fun to re-read the history of the Columbian exhibition in Chicago in 1893. I thought it was interesting because of what we are preparing to do for the millennium. The more I read about it, I thought it might come to serve as a model for us for where we want to go. Let me start by reminding you that in October 1892 Senator Charles Depew, a noted orator of the time, described the colonial exhibition by saying "this day belongs not to America, but to the world. We are celebrating the emancipation of man." He was quite right, man was emancipated that day. Or at least some men were, many were not. What is interesting too about the 1890s is that it was very much like the period we are in now. There were extensive changes going on.

The early 1890's were a time of considerable turmoil in America- a time of conflicting interests and ideas. It was an age of self-conscious searching for an identity on a personal and a national level. Industrial and increasingly electrical revolutions were transforming our country. The American way of life was no longer based on agriculture but on factories and urban centers. The shift from a producer to a consumer society and the creation of large corporations led to financial instability. Immigration, the technological advances, and the rail roads had changed the face of the country and suddenly Americaness was more and more difficult to define. So the Columbia exhibition was an attempt to re-define America to itself and the world. It also set an example for us about what it meant to be an American.

Susan B. Anthony thought that it would be an important opportunity for women. She began by quietly gathering signatures from, as she described, mothers and daughters, judges, etc. to make congress realize that women should play a role. She created a one hundred and sixteen member board (with representation from each state) of lady managers to oversee women's activities at this huge international event. Curiously, among all one hundred and sixteen members there was not one African American woman.

Three days before the first planning meeting of the board in November 1890 the Chicago Tribune announced a ladies mass meeting at Bethesda Baptist chapel to discuss the position in colored ladies should occupy in the National Columbian exposition. At the first meeting of the Board of Lady Managers one woman got up and spoke and said "what about African American women, what role will we play, how will we be represented?" Well this was discussed, argued, and eventually, rather than including African American women on the Board of Lady Managers, two women were appointed to more or less clerical positions. What stunning irony! Women of the 1890's understood that they had to organize, be represented and speak for themselves could not, would not, take that next logical step to understand that that principle of representation was certainly equally true for African Americans.

As a model for us today, a lot of good things did happen at the Columbian exposition. There was an International Congress of Women, the building was designed by women, and a number of national women's organizations sprung from the network that developed there. I think one of the most important things that happened there was that Ida B. Wells from Chicago, an outstanding woman, one of the greatest from our history, came up with the idea for raising the money to produce 20,000 copies of a pamphlet, which she distributed free, on African American contributions to America. This introduced to the fair the contributions of the African Americans. She wrote in the preface "those visitors to the Columbian exposition will naturally ask why don't colored women, who constitute such a large element of the American population and who have contributed so large a share to American greatness were not more visibly represented, more visibly present and better represented in this world exposition- why are they not taking part in this glorious celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the nation." I think that question still rings for us today as we talk about how we will celebrate our history in the millennium. I think one of our main goals should be that no one will ask these questions of us.

Ann Lewis then introduced Gloria Johnson.

Gloria Johnson began her remarks by noting the importance of including working women and union women in the chronicle of women's history. She also thanked the Commission for giving her the opportunity to highlight the contributions of those women.

Ms. Johnson noted that in 1961 Mary Callahan was the only union appointee to the Presidential Commission on Status of Women. She said that the commission documented the lives of women in their work, education and home. The goal was "to develop plans for advancing a full partnership of men and women in our national lives." Much progress, Ms. Johnson said, came from the deliberations of that commission, including recommendations for the Equal Pay Act of 1963, state and local commissions on the status of women, and for the first time, extensive documentation on the status of African American women in the United States.

A few years later, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) was formed, where Ms. Johnson now serves as president. CLUW was created to carry out the goals of the American Labor movement.

Ms. Johnson then noted some exceptional working women:

Myra Wolfgang, she noted, was the vice-president of the hotel and restaurant employees who opened up the Coalition of Labor Union Women's conference and said "tell George Sweeney (the President of the AFL-CIO) we didn't come here to swap recipes."

It was through CLUW that Ms. Johnson met Abbie Wyatt the vice president of the United Food and Commercial workers and an activist in Chicago. She was a minister who "extended herself far beyond her church and far beyond her community to support many working women, union and non union as well."

Joyce Miller, now with Unite who was then with the Clothing and Textiles Worker's Union.

CLUW's first president, the late Olga Medar who, before CLUW was formed, fought for the Equal Rights amendment and played a major role, perhaps the most important role in bringing union women together to form CLUW (a process, Ms. Johnson noted, was not unlike giving birth).

Ms. Johnson told the story of how she knew Mary Callahan. Ms. Johnson was born and raised in the District of Columbia and after losing three jobs she was finally was hired as a book keeper by the International Union and Electrical workers. Eventually she began doing research for the board chaired by Mary Callahan. Ms. Johnson said that this was a rare opportunity for a young African American, recently married, recently a mother, and at that time it was looked as a wonderful opportunity to become a part of the American legal movement. Mary Callahan, Ms. Johnson said, had negotiated child care for women workers during the war and was a strong supporter of equal pay. It was in the process of legislative compromise that equal pay for comparable work came to be equal pay for equal work.

Ms. Johnson talked about Mary Sterling, a Philadelphia shoe-worker, who led women to strike when an employer had lowered their wages after the men refused to accept the wage cut. The man at the door questioned her status as a delegate saying "I didn't know we had girls coming to our meetings." To which she responded " Well there are sixteen of us here this year so you'd better get used to it. We intend to make our voices heard on behalf of the many women and girls who work in factories and shops. Equal pay for equal work will be our slogan, sir."

Ms. Johnson said that she came to the meeting with a sense of history from that earlier Commission on the Status of Women; chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and staffed by the late Esther Peterson. She said she also came with an enormous sense of pride: "Women have accomplished a great deal in the last thirty-five years. This very diverse committee now has the opportunity to turn our attention to celebrating our long and rich history. A history almost unknown thirty-five years ago."

She continued saying that "As a working grandmother, as a trade unionist, as a woman of color, I want two things to come from this commission. First, I want the voices of all women to be heard at this celebration. Well known women and un-known women, women from the inner cities, farm women, migrant workers, educated and uneducated. Of particular concern to me are the voices of working women and those who struggled often at great personal risk to improve their wages and working conditions to join a union. This includes women in the fields and mines as well as the school rooms, hospitals and offices."

She continued saying: "second, I hope the information that is being documented and collected all across the country will be shared with today's working women. Women factory workers must learn not only about their own history, but about women migrant workers, scientists, musicians and poets.

We need to collect and share information about how women's history is already being celebrated at the local level. From my world we need to know about distinct labor history associations, the oral history projects, the labor landmarks being identified and catalogued by the Labor Heritage Foundation."

Ms. Johnson described a program called the "Art Train." It will leave from Union Station in July and will travel to 150 cities, touching 48 states. This year the train will be celebrating NASA's 40th anniversary through art, commissioning over seventy paintings by women artists. How wonderful to have an art train traveling the country celebrating women's history with events in each location. There are now local art councils that have developed and grown as a result of earlier trips that this train has taken. Ms. Johnson suggested that there could be a an entire "women in labor train," or working women could be a part of a grand women's history train.

Ms. Johnson concluded by saying: "It is important to me, and I think I speak for many working women, both young and not young, whenever I say that the celebration of women's history, our struggles and successes, should be celebrated in a way that informs women, but also in a way that educates and includes our fathers and sons, our brothers, our uncles, our co-workers and our friends. It is towards these themes that the inclusion and strengthening of the local communities, is where I hope to contribute the most and it is in the spirit of conventions and commissions that take action and make a difference, and I hope to make this contribution."

Ann Lewis thanked Ms. Johnson and said "as our mutual friend, Senator Mikulski would say "women have always worked it's just that their work has been unrecognized, unorganized, and underpaid." Ms. Lewis then briefly described that the rest of the afternoon would consist of a number of scheduled speakers and upon their conclusion the floor would be opened to the public. She asked for specific recommendations from the audience. Ms. Lewis then introduced Ruth Z. Sweetser.

Following is a transcript of the remarks by Ruth Sweetser.
Commission Co-Chairs Lewis and Newburger, Commission member Roosevelt, and other Commission members. I am honored and delighted to share some thoughts this afternoon with the President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History. I applaud your work and wish you well in your charge of integrating the historical past with the future. In preparing my remarks I consulted colleagues, of course, but, for better or worse, the ideas presented here are shaped by my personal perspectives, values and experiences, intense experiences with the women's community here in Illinois for more than twenty years.

When I get involved with a project it is always with a big picture in mind- I want my participation to be pragmatic, principled, outcome-based, well-planned, actionable, claritive, creative and, ultimately, educational. Likewise, the project I am envisioning is pragmatic, both in costs -- by virtue of leveraging existing resources -- and in meeting a real need. Actionable, claritive and broadly accessible, dynamic, responding to a needed change, engaging in the interactive, innovative, informing, consciousness-raising -- even inspiring -- highly educational and potentially integrating. Aspects of the project which I will sketch out speak to all of the above characteristics, except the last one: integrating women's history into all of history. Only in the long term will society determine whether the experiences of every social group will be valuable enough to comprise the record of human kind. On this basis and in hopes that it will line up with your theme I offer this concept: a national network of women's heritage and discovery centers.

The concept is based on the premise that knowing the past empowers women and society in the present. What persons do in the present shapes the future, thus becoming history. History and potential history form a continuum and this perspective will explain some of the aspects that I will include in my project idea. Each center, that is each women's heritage and discovery center, would be visibly designated as an affiliate of the women's heritage and discovery centers network. All centers would apply for and acquire accrediting according to the following standards. Four characteristics taken together will qualify the center:

1) The center honors area women, past and present;
2) The center catalyzes learning about and by women;
3) The center provides a dynamic mechanism to shape the future, in other words, history in the making;
4) The center communicates precisely the rationale for having these heritage and cultural centers;

Now let's go back to number one. The center honors area women past and present through space for artifacts, materials, memorabilia, presentations, and so on as a center with which to capture for posterity the often covert contributions of women known only to the local community. In this way, a center can build pride locally and serve to integrate local happenings with a macro history.

Secondly, a center catalyzes the learning about and by women. A center would offer a location for those interested in women's contributions and advocacy to meet for enlightenment and for connecting generations, mentors with mentees. It provides a destination for, field trips, elder hostels, research on women. In essence it could be a place to access and learn about practical women-oriented materials. From travels, to career books, to balancing work and family, to financial planning, to health care, to laws affecting women in their everyday lives.

For example, trip planning: Susan B. Anthony Slept Here, a wonderful resource which could be updated, helps captures the roles of women wherever the travel destination may be. Career and employment resources such as the one-stop career centers leveraging the link that is the Internet to ensure that one-stops have gender-equitable materials and counseling for non-traditional careers. The third possibility, student redress with the Illinois state board of education on issues such as Illinois sex equity rules and Title IX legislation, or possibly professional development for educators and parents through the Illinois state curriculum centers to gender equity materials and initiatives.

A third characteristic of such a center: it would provide a dynamic mechanism to shape the future. Since history is constantly in the making a center needs to be a vehicle for input and organization of information, not just for a review of what has already happened. I feel very strongly about that; technology makes this possible and will offer everyone incredible avenues for doing so. Therefore, the center needs two interactive features. First, Internet access, in all likelihood via a web site. On site user-friendly search engines so that center visitors could cogently access a wealth of women-related sites, even take virtual tours of the various museums such as all of the other women's heritage and discovery centers, the Women's History project, Women in Science, Technology, Arts, Military many other programs some of which have locations, Women's study programs, the Women's Hall of Fame and National Park in Senecca Falls, a registry of women's historic sites and especially local ones, existing research on women, needed research on women, funding sources for such research.

A second dynamic mechanism of this center would be an interactive clearinghouse, this could be on-line or conventional with the ability to update with local women's contributions, catalogs of new resources, or previously unlisted sites, an opportunity to vote on issues and provide recommendations, for example women to be featured on a U.S. postal stamp, nominations for the Women's Hall of Fame, women's bureau, Department of Labor surveys such as a working women count.

The fourth characteristic of such a center would be that it communicates concisely the rationale for having women's heritage and discovery centers to begin with. The center puts primary and central emphasis on the questions "what is history? Whose perspectives, interpretations, experiences prevail? How do the accumulated accounts of history shape our current, daily reactions and observations.

Women's heritage and discovery centers would be local public/private partnerships collectively forming a national network whose vision and scope would be developed through the input process. Its operation would be overseen by an advisory council. The hallmark of any center and all centers would be its interactive and empowering nature. With universal access, centers would set and issue policy to maximize usage.

Long term support available to the centers would include grants and assistance from programming and from the accrediting process. Initial and on-going marketing could create visibility and leverage by citing multiple locations. In the interest of establishing more locations, women's research and history centers could stand alone or co-locate with, for example, a public library, a historical museum, a college or university, a women's history site, a women's activism site such as CLUW, or a women's building. There was talk in the last decade about having a women's building here in Chicago perhaps something like that.

There remains the question of who pays for the center and why. Potential funders will ask "what's in it for me?" The answer has everything to do with the viability of the concept and the vitality of the project should it come to be. If the commission could tap the support of those who value women's work and understand women's worth over time women's heritage and cultural centers can become a reality.

I look forward to your success on behalf of all women in the United States.

Ann Lewis thanked Ms. Sweetser for her suggestions, and then asked if there were any questions or comments from Commission members.

Beth Newburger praised the model Ms. Sweetser introduced and asked if any such model is working in other environments. Ms. Sweetser said that she knew of none.

Ann Lewis then introduced Nancy Chen.

Following is a transcript of Ms. Chen's remarks.
On behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau in Chicago, let me welcome you to Chicago and I want to express my appreciation for Commissioner Roosevelt giving me the opportunity to share with you my own views on the importance of your work, both generally and with regard to Asian American women. The commission has a tremendous responsibility entrusted by President Clinton to recognize the myriad contributions of women to our nation's history, the central role that women, the a majority of our nation's population, play in the daily life of every American, and the heights that women will take America in the 21st Century. I am pleased with the diversity of the commissioners, including Asian American professor Elaine Kim, and I commend your efforts to reach out across the nation to hear from women on these important issues. On a separate note, Commissioner Johnson, we would like you to know that the Women's Bureau will be joining with local members on the planning of the anniversary celebration next September.

The Women's Bureau was created by congress the in 1920, the same year women won the suffrage right. We are the only federal agency with the responsibility to serve and promote the interests of working women. Over the last seventy-eight years, we have been on the forefront, improving women's working conditions, breaking down the barriers which restrict women in reaching their full potential in the workplace, and advancing their opportunities for gainful employment. Through advocacy, outreach, research and demonstrative programs, the Women's Bureau strives to keep women's issues before the legislative, political, and corporate agendas. And I am pleased to state that I am the first Asian American Regional Administrator in the Bureau's seventy-eight year history.

I am honored and delighted to address the role of Asian American women in our nation's the history. There is little doubt that the pages of our nation's history books find little mention of Asian American women. You have the opportunity to set the record straight.

Asian Americans are newcomers to the United States. In contrast to African Americans who had no choice but to come as slaves starting in the 17th century, and Indians and Latinos who had no choice but to be part of the United States because the U.S. borders expanded to encompass them in the 18th and 19th centuries, Asian Americans had no choice but to be excluded from the United States by law and by custom until the middle of the 20th century.

Asian men, mainly early immigrants who left their families behind in China and Japan and came to California during and after the Gold Rush in the 1840's and 1850's, were segregated and relegated to the harshest jobs and conditions. For example, it was well known that the Chinese laborers were instrumental in the construction of the Transcontinental Railway, which was completed in 1869. What is less well known is that they were given the most dangerous jobs of blasting mountains and many lost their lives in dynamite-related accidents in our Western states. Similarly, by custom, Chinese settlers were kept away from all but the driest of gold mines in Northern California in the 1800s. What could not be accomplished by custom was carried out by law. The Foreign Miners Tax, Alien Land Laws, and Cubic Air Ordinances were targeted specifically to drive Chinese and Japanese out of the mining, agriculture, and urban retail industries.

I have described what faced Asian men because Asian women were excluded from the United States from the early 1870's for their suspected role as prostitutes and were prevented from immigrating legally. The hostility toward Chinese and Japanese women as prostitutes compounded by the rising anti-Chinese and Japanese sentiments led to the eventual passage of a series of laws to exclude Asian men and women from entering this country.The exclusion meant that the Chinese and Japanese men could not bring over their families and they lived in bachelor societies in the United States. Since the men were not allowed to naturalize and Chinese laborers were subject to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Asian women married to these immigrants could not join their men for years or ever. In addition, social taboos and state statutes barring miscegenation meant that the men had no families in the United States whatsoever. Indeed, it was not until 1898 that the Anglo-American legal principle, called birthright citizenship, that is birth in the United States guarantees citizenship, was extended to the few Chinese that were born in the United States. These discriminatory and exclusionary immigration laws had profound impact in delaying the setting of roots in the United States by Asian American families until the mid-20th Century.

Thus, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other women leaders met at Seneca Falls, there were no Asian American women to join them. By the same token, there were few other women standing with their Asian American sisters when other legal battles went on. In 1927, the Supreme court ruled against the nine-year-old daughter of Gong Lum, a Chinese American grocer in Mississippi, who was refused entry to the local school for whites. This was the first Supreme court case to challenge the "separate but equal" doctrine in public education. It took twenty-seven more years and Brown vs. Board of Education for the doctrine to fall. In the 1940's, Mitsue Endo, a Japanese American woman, challenged her wartime internment on the West Coast but she was unsuccessful. These women warriors in the legal field and other pioneers such as Dr. Margaret Chung, the first American born Chinese woman physician, are the unsung heroes of our community's American history.

Today, Asian American women professionals, are the beneficiaries of the Immigration Act of 1965 which ended the national origin quotas barring Asian immigration and which fostered family reunification, are leading the way to the 21st century for our community and the nation. Asian American women are represented in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Clinton Administration, the nation's airwaves, corporate America, colleges and universities and all walks of life.

I want to share with you some statistics about Asian American women. According to the U.S. census, there are 10.2 million Asian Pacific Americans in this nation, and fifty-one percent are female. More than sixty percent of the Asian American population are immigrants, which means the majority of women in our communities are immigrants. The census provides a glowing snapshot about us: Asian American women are very active in the labor force, fifty-nine percent were labor force participants in 1996. They are the least likely to be unemployed than any other group of women. Asian Pacific American women's percentage in management and professional jobs mirrors that of white women while their distribution in technical, sales and administrative support jobs closely resembles that of black women. Asian Pacific American women had the highest median earnings among all female groups, at $25,555, they out-earned white women who were at $25,358, black women at $21,990, and Latinas, $19,272. The high earnings were attributed to their higher educational attainment. In addition, Asian American families had the lowest poverty rate, 2.7 percent, lower than any other group except white.

These statistics often lead policy makers and the philanthropic community to believe that Asian Americans do so well that they do not need help. They also mask the economic disparity between the newcomers with low skills and educational attainment and those who came with professional training and advanced degrees. These statistics should not allow us to ignore today's Asian American immigrant women who come not only from East Asia, but also from South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. They are the forgotten newcomers in garment factories, electronics assembly plants, hotel and food services or mail-order marriages. They can too easily be trapped not under a glass ceiling but in low wage jobs that are in-penetratable and mask the distance they must still travel to bring dignity to their workplaces and homes, the dignity we expect for all Americans.

As our nation prepares to celebrate the role of women in American history, it is critical that we recognize the hardship endured and the courage displayed by this often neglected and misunderstood group, Asian American women, for their contributions in the building of this nation. Asian American women are often burdened by their unique place in America. On one hand, they still suffer from the residue of the prejudice and stereotypes fostered in the 1800s about Asian women. On the other hand, Asian American women are being touted as the "model minority" to be the shining examples for all other groups. The truth is that Asian American women, much like their sisters in all communities, have been the cornerstones of strong families and striving communities who helped shape our nation. Rather than being a wedge that would be used to divide, Asian American women, now and in the 21st century, can be a bridge across cultures, across oceans, and across workplace lunchrooms to unite people.

We welcome immigrants and honor the country's proud immigrant heritage by the Statue of Liberty next to Ellis Island. Contrary to their European counterparts at Ellis Island who stayed on average a few days, Asian immigrants, especially women who eventually came to the United States to reunite with their husbands, often sat for months at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay awaiting medical and other clearances for admission. With no certainty of being accepted, some of them died of illness or committed suicide out of despair.

Angel Island, the entry point for thousands of Asian immigrants until the 1940's, symbolizes the far distant origins of Asian men and women in the United States, the more recent immigrant experience of the post-1965 era and the contributions of today's and tomorrow's Asian American women and men. A similar statue for all Americans in the Pacific at Angel Island has been promoted among the Asian American community to recognize the nation's immigration history from the West Coast. I urge the Commission to consider supporting this idea as a way to illuminate the history of Asian American women and men, to lead the Asian American women still toiling in the darkness of sweatshops today, and to carry us forward to the 21st century.

Ann Lewis inquired about Ms. Chen's suggestion for the establishment of a museum on Angel Island.

Nancy Chen said that there has been talk about building a "Statue of Liberty" in the West at Angel Island to commemorate the West Coast Immigrant Passageway.

Gloria Johnson mentioned ways for coalitions of Asian and Latina labor women to contribute to any such project.

Ann Lewis then reported on commission member LaDonna Harris. She was supposed to join the group, but fell sick. Ms. Lewis then introduced Peggy Montes.

Following is a transcript of Ms. Montes's remarks.
As I sat in the front row I was overwhelmed to hear the remarks of how women of color were not present in the women's movement and were more involved in working behind the scenes. I hope that our celebration will be inclusive. I am the chair of the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues. The Commission is a seventeen member panel which advises the President and members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on issues of concern to women and girls. It collaborates with the government and with private sector organizations on projects addressing a range of issues including: domestic violence, child care, economic equity, the development of girls and women's health.

I am pleased that President Clinton has taken the important step of creating the Commission to focus on the inclusion of the unique perspectives and contributions of women in the millennium celebration. I thank you for opening this process to the public and for giving women across the country the opportunity to have their views and voices heard.

Before I get into the specific focus of my remarks, I want to make some general observations and suggestions about the celebration of women in history. While it is crucial that the recognition of the contributions of women be an integral part of our Nation's millennium celebration, I know you join me in the belief that we can not limit this recognition to one-time, or even annual, event.

Women have played and continue to play critical economic, cultural, and social roles in every sphere of our nation's life. We must teach this to our children, boys and girls, so that they may see the possibilities for roles they can play in shaping our future.

The acknowledgment and celebration of women's contributions to the development of our nation must be an on-going effort. The historical, as well as present day contributions of women from every race, class, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, and religion should be continuously documented and acknowledged. We must take care to ensure that this acknowledgment includes not only recognition of women who as individuals achieved extraordinary things, but also recognition of the role that ordinary women played in transforming our communities and our ideas, and shaping our society and culture. We must nurture existing institutions and traditions, and foster the creation of new ones, for this purpose.

Echoing some of the testimony you have already gathered in this process, I recommend that careful thought be given to constructing ways that the millennium celebration be brought to a local level so that it becomes more than just an event the nation watches on t.v. or reads in the newspaper. It is important that this celebration have a presence in, and relevance to, communities across the country. Whenever feasible, whatever is planned at the national level for the millennium celebration should be replicated at the local level or participation in the celebration should be encouraged at a local level.

There are many strategies that could and should be employed to "localize" the millennium celebration, including innovative uses of technology. And there are also many institutions through which the message can be communicated at a community level-such as schools and libraries. However, I want to focus your attention on the existence of the hundreds of state, county and municipal commissions that have been created by governments to improve the status of women. These commissions are present in such places as the city of Anchorage, Alaska; Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; the state of New Mexico; Bergen county , New Jersey; and of course, here in Cook County, Illinois. These commissions provide an existing infrastructure for the transmission of the women's history component of this celebration to the local level. One way of accessing many of these commissions is through the National Association of Commissions for Women (NACW). The NACW was originally established in 1969 as a nonpartisan membership organization that serves as a national voice for the 270 state and local commissions.

Many of these commissions, for example, the Missouri Women's Council's project, called "Women's History Month" collaborates with public and parochial schools and the National Women's History Project in order to provide educational material to young girls and boys and to recognize and celebrate women's diverse lives. The Delaware Commission for Women has a project called "Hall of Fame for Delaware Women" to acknowledge and celebrate contributions made by Delaware women. They identify women alive or deceased who have made substantial contributions to the state. In observance of Women's History Month, the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues presents the Unsung Heroine's Award to seventeen women, one from each district of Cook County. The Commission recognizes these women for their quiet, yet vital, contributions to their communities, families, and professional endeavors.

Women's Commissions are the keepers of the Hall of Fame, the documenters of the history of women in their state. By including them you bring the local perspective, their resources and knowledge of the historical and present day role of women in their communities into the national endeavor. We recommend approaching women's commissions to integrate millennium celebration events into their existing programs. This may include integrating their already existing recognition events or adding a historical component to their other projects. The work of these Commissions covers a range of activities from advocacy to direct service. Topics of concern to commissions include sexual violence, child care, economic well-being and run the whole gamut of topics that are of concern to women and girls today.

Women's Commissions should be encouraged to find a way to use the history of women and its celebration as a way of advancing their current agenda; whether it be economic advancement, social equity, or political empowerment.

Ann Lewis thanked Ms. Montes for her presentation and asked her how we would get in contact with the NACW. Peggy Montes said she would get the name of the President of NACW to the Commission.

Ann Lewis then introduced General Wilma Vaught to testify.

General Vaught began her testimony by talking about her work as President of The Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. The Foundation's mission was similar to that of the Commission, she said, in its aim to raise awareness about women's role in history. General Vaught listed some of the lessons she learned from her work in the Foundation.

First, she noted, that until 1982 there had not been a comprehensive history written on women in the military. General Vaught noted that having a comprehensive written history is the first key to raising awareness.

Second, General Vaught noted that women have never really considered themselves historically significant and that they have never been encouraged to record their histories. She cited Stephen Ambrose's Citizen Soldier, known as a comprehensive study of the military, as an example of the exclusion of women in military history. The book mentions women in the service only briefly, in their roles as nurses. General Vaught felt that capturing and recording women's history is an essential partner to promoting women's history.

Third, General Vaught noted that financial resources play an extremely important role in these movements. Women must be encouraged to support women's issues. General Vaught thinks the movement needs to have a single-minded purpose as well as some name recognition to raise the public profile of the issue.

Fourth, General Vaught noted that it is important to get young women interested in women's history and to show them how significant it is to their lives. She suggested that promoting women's history on television would attract young women's attention..

General Vaught then talked about the importance of supporting women's history institutions, in particular, the National Women's Hall of Fame. She noted that this important institution was on the brink of bankruptcy, so she has made it her personal cause to speak about it wherever she travels.

General Vaught then suggested "working to electronically link women's history collections of museums and libraries across the country. The problem with this approach, however, is that many women's historic actions or accomplishments have been lost over time. They remain uncollected, un-catalogued , and unacknowledged and until they are collected and organized it is not possible to compare and contrast them, study them in relation to one another, and develop an understanding of their significance and importance."

General Vaught reiterated the importance of documenting, researching, collecting, preserving, and organizing for retrieval "historic facts, stories, memoirs, achievements, actions and accomplishments of women and make them accessible to public through publications, Internet, video, CD-Rom, traveling exhibits etc. We must vocalize women's organizations to join in this effort if it is to be successful. We must work to make story of women's history interesting. We have initiated in our small way, an educational outreach to some of Northern Virginia schools so we can begin to tell young people about history of women in military because it isn't in many of books they study, for example in high school or college."

General Vaught ended her remarks by warning the Commission to "think long and carefully" about establishing a women's history museum. She said that it would be costly, and may end up sapping donors from other worthy projects.

Ann Lewis thanked General Vaught, and opened the floor to questions and comments. Gloria Johnson noted that women in the military encounter the same difficulties attaining recognition as women from the labor movement. She agreed with General Vaught that World War II women had a tremendous impact on the country. She spoke of the women who worked in the factories while the men were at war [noting that she was one of those women]. General Vaught agreed that it was imperative to get the word out. Gloria Johnson noted that there are great networks that exist to do so [such as the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association]. General Vaught then asked how many people in the audience knew about the memorial to woman in the military before today. Despite tremendous publicity, very few hands went up.

Ann Lewis then said "I have a question regarding your very good comment about linking up national organizations and that is, how far along are you?" General Vaught said that it was something she just thought of.

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt made two comments. She said "I think General Vaught's point about fund raising is important. One of the charges of this Commission is to look at best way to do this and get it done as opposed to- there are so many wonderful ideas, but they all take money. We need to find out how to tap it, because that is how to get it started." Additionally, she wanted to acknowledge Lois Weissberg, Commissioner of Public Affairs who worked hard for this meeting.

Ann Lewis thanked General Vaught and praised her participation in the Color Guard ceremonies at Senecca Falls. Ms. Lewis then introduced Brook Weissman.

Following is a transcript of Brook Weissman's remarks.
I am pleased to be here and to have an opportunity to address the commission. As Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Chicago, I represent about 14,000 girls in the city. And today it will come as no surprise that I am going to talk about the inclusion of girls in this celebration.

In order to make the millennium celebration meaningful, I think one of the most important things we need to include is fun for girls whether they are playing historical games like hopscotch or jacks or current activities such as surfing the net.

Whatever is done must be interactive in nature if we want to engage girls in the celebration. Girls from all backgrounds must also see themselves as part of the project and must understand how it relates to them today. This can be done by using the lessons of yesterday to shape and fashion the future. We must also use today's women and men to be partners with girls in exploring the past. Strong relationships with adults are critical to positive growth among youth. Girls can use their own families and their own neighborhoods to serve as a jumping off point for their explorations. Oral histories are fun and interesting for girls of all ages. These could be combined with skill building in the areas of video production and the use of other current technologies.

Clearly technology must be part of the celebration if we are to involve the girls of today. Web pages for girls are very popular and Internet exploration is a common way of work for many of today's youth. An Internet game or games could be developed to encourage the exploration of data on female leaders throughout the country. And we must also call attention to the existing sites that we already have that tell the story of women's history perhaps by developing local historical trails to follow or a comprehensive program that encourages walks to historical areas. Photo exhibits could be held in various sites that show women making history today ,or perhaps a photo exhibit on girls today who will be history makers of tomorrow. Existing sites can be used as areas for girls to develop exhibits and for girls to give service which I think is a critical piece of any project. Young people need to know that they are valued by their society and need to have a vehicle such as service to contribute to their community.

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. is eighty-six years old. We are an organization with 2.6 million girls ages five to seventeen and over 800,000 adult volunteers plus millions of alumni. In addition to our already existing badges such as Women Through Time, we will celebrate by offering an "Honor the Past, Imagine the Future" program that will help girls to explore their resources in a way that broadens their understanding of our history.

Girls will delve into the past to explore people's values and perceptions which will help them to understand the change that they see in their communities and cultures. We will explore our rich history by assisting young women in understanding the social fabric of the worlds of their grandparents and great grandparents. We will explore local neighborhood histories, which will include insights into the effects of changes in media and technology. Of great importance will be the section that looks at the careers that women have pursued historically and the ways they have been portrayed in the media so that girls can see the dramatic changes in the roles that women have played throughout history.

I think it is important that as girls explore the past that it's done in conjunction with an eye to the present and to the future. It is a way to appreciate, honor, and preserve our roots and as Girl Scouts, we, of course, stand prepared, as always to assist you, the commission and the country in "honoring the past, and imagining the future."

Beth Newburger asked if the "honor the past, imagine the future" program was already underway. Brook Weissman said "Yes, it is currently in development and what it does is takes those areas that I have mentioned and ties them into badge requirements or other activities that we already have as a part of our program so that we can focus on women's history throughout millennium, but it is not finished but it is in production." She also said that they have a number of women's history badges, but that if girls complete certain requirements they will receive an "honor past, imagine future" patch that they can then wear on their uniform.

Ann Lewis introduced the next speaker, Lynn Weiner.

Following is a transcript of the remarks by Lynn Weiner.
Thank you. Commissioners Lewis, Newburger, Johnson and Roosevelt. I am very honored to be here, not just because of what I am about to say but also because it is so interesting listening to everyone else and I look forward to hearing what people in the audience have to say as well.

As we explore ways to explore and celebrate our past, it is good to remember that in the present the study of women's history is thriving in academia. However, our understanding of women's history has not always been this successful. In moving from the academic world into the world of public and popular history we have somehow failed to do this - to get into the museums, the commemorations, and the public programs where so many Americans get their only exposure to history. I would like to suggest a way today that we might bridge the academic and public arenas.

At one time women's history was quite marginal in our profession. Over the past twenty years or so, the field has flourished. There are tens of thousands of articles, books and journals, publications and college courses offered even as other programs develop. The fellowships and prizes rewarded for the best research and academic conferences bring together scholars from around the world. There is a coordinating council for women in history which creates networking opportunities for local groups in every region in the nation. And there dozens of these groups- ranging from the Chicago Area Women's History Conference, the Southern Association of Women Historians, Washington Women Historians, to the Society for the Study of Women in Legal History, the Association of Black Women Historians, and many, many more.

There are research institutions like the Schlessinger Library which provides parallel resource material for scholars. And there are exciting new projects underway such as the soon to be published biographical Encyclopedia of Chicago women and the on-going collections for public and private papers featuring women such as Jane Addams, Emma Coleman, and Margaret Sager. At the local level there are many oral history projects which gather the stories of women from all walks of life. And there are new technologies which are adapted to the field in many ways. Web sites, for example, such as the one at Binghampton University on Women and the History of Social Movements, offer computer access to primary source material from anywhere in the world. I was just looking at that site last night and it includes documents from Ida B. Wells and many other documents are available.

As women's history was marginal in the universities before the 1970's, so too was women's history non-existent in the nation's primary and second schools. Today, organizations like the National Women's History project and the Upper Midwest Women's History Center in Minneapolis provide training and curricula for teachers. There are now state mandates such as in Illinois where teachers are encouraged to expose students from kindergarten to twelfth grade to women's history. National Women's History Month, approved annually since 1987 by Congress generates teaching opportunities in the month of March which are meant to spark discussion throughout the entire year. Women's history is also present in the realm of public and popular history; there are projects like the "Don't Throw it Away" initiative which encourages women's organizations to save their records for the future, so that future historians will know what they did. There are educational initiatives like "Living the Legacy" which I found on the Internet the other day, which brings together diverse groups such as the National Association of University Women, the National Council of Legal Women and the Girl Scouts to celebrate women's history.

Historic sites , of course, are a staple of public history. Only a few years ago, there was a shockingly low number of city and national parks and historical landmarks devoted to women's history in the United States. With the movement to preserve historic sights there have been initiatives such as the Women's History Landmark project which seeks to increase the number of historic sights honoring women. Buildings associated with such famous women such as Clara Barton, are important, but so are physical spaces associated with ordinary women such as union, education and work sites. Museums, both large and small, are creating more exhibits devoted to women in history-- there is the Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York which we heard about and local women's halls of fame in many states. There are now plans to open a new Women's History Museum in Dallas in the year 2000, in fact, those women planning the museum have got a fascinating discussion on the Internet about the nature of such a museum, and what it should focus on, what kinds of exhibits should they have and so on.

Today we are discussing a variety of ways to celebrate the history of women in the United States. I would like to suggest that we build a better bridge between the academic wealth of knowledge about the history of women and the venues of public and popular research. It seems to me that despite all our best efforts women's history has not been secured into our collective historical consciousness. Whole areas of national memory, memorials for example, are being largely devoted to politicians, generals, soldiers and other male leaders.

I know now- the recent controversy over the placement in the capital rotunda of a sculpture of women's rights pioneers reflects a lack of focus about the importance of women's history. The state mandates to teach women's history, at least in Illinois, are under-funded and therefore lack the impact they might otherwise have. The multiple resources that everyone here has mentioned- the local research projects, the Internet catalogues, the curriculum guides are fragmented and scattered. Projects of all kinds constantly struggle for funding from the public and private sectors.

We need to invest the time and money needed to bridge the worlds of academia and public policy. The new scholarship must be made accessible and meaningful to the public. For example, if we could follow the state mandates to teach women's history in the schools, we could have an impact on state learning standards so that students and teachers alike could learn about the diversity of women's history as a cou4鷹 0D8DD0EDJ|SѯZbB&rf줛ǻ@t&A3 'f&,G48LJ,I(a㊢gf2s̿rEԾMS N?̲?䨩.EeTQM$2+RHyCPM?AMA%NKEA